Part One. My Year in Review: The Tree Change.

Hello pop tart!

I’ve never done one of these review blog posts. But I LOVE reading ’em! So, this year, I’m giving it a whirl.

To be honest, I’m wondering where to go with it all. How far, how wide, how deep?

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It’s like plotting a novel. I need groupings. Headings. Chapters.

Maybe even a scene breakdown.

Nah.

Bollocks to that.

Let’s just start with LIFE shall we? That should work.

LIFE

Biggest adventure was of course our Tree Change. 

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I’d been haunting the real estate pages for about, um, TEN years before we finally took the plunge.

I’d been finding these glooooorious country properties. Buying vintage aprons and stylish gum boots. Imagining life off-grid (yeah, right, Jen). Flagging other important stuff (scone recipes, salvage yards, rescue puppies and the like). ‘Romancing’ as my mother used to call it.

House hunting for a country retreat had become my hobby. My outlet. And eventually my passion.

But, Jen, you LOVE the city. Like, seriously LOVE. Concrete under your feet and all that.

Why did you leave? Why, why?

Real reasons for our country move?

There were many, of course.

But FINANCE was big on the list.

And so was this: WTF has happened to our beloved Melbourne?

As far as we were concerned, unchecked development, corporate greed and senseless, selfish, short-sighted destruction, had made the world’s most livable city look like the set from a Bruce Willis film.

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Not only was Melbourne starting to look like a concrete tip, it was getting harder and harder to navigate. The speed of life, too, the busy busy busy, ‘we simply must catch-up’, pass the oxygen, was doing my head in.

Cripes. I needed IV Rescue Remedy to keep up with it all.

I used to own a house. Actually, I had four or five houses during my 20s and 30s. (I was awfully sensible in those days. Pity, really.)

Then I became a sole parent.

Then I decided to follow my dream to be a writer.

I sold my last house to fund that dream.

Then, many years later,  I met Himself.

Fifteen years on, after years of renting, after years of MOVING, being shuffled about by fickle landlords (we lived in seven houses in 15 years)…

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we were ready to buy a house.

Our house.

Our own house.

Oh my Goddess! Ching, ching!

And HOLY CHEQUE BOOK.

Have you seen the house prices in Melbourne?

We realised we would have to go TWENTY SQUILLION bucks into debt, just to buy a humble family home with an outdoor lav and asbestos ceilings.

Even if we borrowed an extra squil on top of that, everything we could afford would still be a HUGE compromise. BIG TIME.

Plus

If we bought a house in Melbourne, we knew, without a doubt, we would be stuck in the debt repayment, nine-to-five hamster wheel, for the rest of our dreary days.

It was time to embrace the country dream. And to start living comfortably, within our means.

Now.

Also.

While Himself was sick to his whiskers of the hamster wheel, there was something else going on for me.

There were spiritual matters.

A call to the land. (Back to the land, perhaps? I am, after all, a country lass. I come from a long line of farmers, beekeepers and, erm, CWA ladies.)

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My maternal grandmother (front left) ( I seriously adored her) and her children. My mother is second from the right, standing. All from Central Victoria. My grandmother had ten children. All born at home. She lost one son, age four, to pneumonia. The rest of the family lived well into the their 80s and 90s. My mother passed away in 2016. Aged 93. It broke my heart. Of course.

But back to my reasons for leaving Melbs.

Money.

Yeah.

But.

Add to the money woes, a burning and ever-growing desire to help Mother Earth. (I’m well aware this desire to DIG might be tied to a grief cycle, too, but I’m too raw to talk about that yet.)

I craved DIRT.

Plants.

Birds.

Bees.

At the age of 57, I am, apparently, a CRONE. We crones can get seriously Earthy.

Many of us hear a call.

And I’ve always been big on heeding calls.

So, despite the fact that I had said, quite categorically, I will never move to Central Victoria because there is NO FUCKING WATER in Central Victoria, we moved to Central Victoria.

There is water.

But not much.

The creeks are dry.

The rivers are… not so great.

I watch the local dams like a government-appointed Water Monitor—noting their rise and fall, wringing my hands over their fate.

Also, the soil here needs loads of love. LOADS I tell ya!

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I celebrate every drop of rain. And photograph it.

When I’m gardening, I often think of that Bruce Dawe poem, ‘Digging around in the not-so-good earth.’

But horse poo can do wonders. And so can compost.

And tanks.

And patience.

So.

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If you follow this blog you’ll know the rest of the story.

We bought a Little Cottage. That’s LC or Elsie to be precise and moved here in June.

Elsie had new stumps, a new kitchen and a newish bathroom.

But her exterior was shot.

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The local painter moved in with us (okay, slight exaggeration).

And, over the next six months, together we guided Elsie through a metamorphosis. Replacing weather boards, guttering and windows as required. And sanding. Lots and lots and LOTS of sanding.

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BTW, Elsie is actually from Port Melbourne. Yes! She’s a city girl! Built in the 1920s and trucked to the country in the 50s when there was something groovy going on.

So, we get each other, Elsie and me. We really do.

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As soon as we moved in, I painted one of the kitchen walls apple green.

I’ve always dreamed of having an apple green kitchen.

The cat painting was a housewarming gift from Mitch Vane.

Mitch works with me on the Danny Best books.

I adore this cat! The look on its face is so, like, whatever.

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Himself found a home for his collection of rusty shit, and started converting the old carport into The Grotto… Somewhere for ‘men’ to drink beer, I suspect.

We haven’t finished painting inside yet, but we were in good enough shape to have all the family here for Christmas.

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One of our biggest fears was that no-one would visit us here in the country.

We were wrong.

No only do they visit, they have sleepovers!

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We have also found the people here to be beyond gorgeous. Everyone has been so welcoming, funny, generous and kind. And, added bonus, they’re all as dotty as us!

The other thing I love is that everything is sooo easy to get to. Pilates? Three minutes. Yoga? Try three, again. The pub? Ten minutes (on foot). Twenty minutes coming home (on foot). The local pool? Three minutes.

I’m hardly ever late. Ever!

We often wonder, what took us so long? What were we so afraid of? How did we get ourselves into such a rut in the city?

If anything, shouldn’t life  be an adventure, a wild and woolly, unpredictable experiment?

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And so endeth Part One of my Year in Review.

Over the next day or two I’m going to look at other stuff, such as my spiritual journey —where I went with that. My career —the ups and the (sniffy) downs. (Yeah, one book tanked, I’m sorry to say.)

Plus a few ‘bests and favourites’, too.

I hope you’ll tune in then!

Thank you for reading this far. You are ACE. I sincerely appreciate your time!!!

With love and heartfelt gratitude xox

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